Technology is a great thing, but understandably people are worried about what it could do to the job market. During the industrial revolution many people’s jobs were displaced, and many flooded to the cities to look for manufacturing jobs. Many individuals that operated as craftsmen were put out of business. What is important to remember, is that technology and machinery usually makes our lives easier, and allows consumers to get products faster and more cheaply. They make us more productive as humans. Along with the revolution came a new spade of other jobs that people forget, and in many cases, jobs aren’t completely displaced. Take farmers for example, humans and horses may have been replaced with this inventive farming equipment – yet the farmers were still needed in order to operate such machinery.
Take what you read with a pinch of salt (critically analyse what you read)
There is usually some sort of time lag between the employment rates. Initially during the industrial revolution people were definitely displaced, however, over time, employment reached peaks that had previously never been seen before. It’s too easy in this day and age (especially when people are uncertain about statistics) to read something along the lines of “By 2030 (*INSERT NUMBER HERE*) jobs will be replaced by robots” as one BBC article wrote, yet these should always be taken with a pinch of salt. It says ‘up to’ meaning it could be between 0 and 20 million jobs being displaced – the wording just tries to entice you into the article. No one is able to accurately predict how many jobs will be replaced by robots/technology/AI. One MIT article even assessed this and made it clear that while many ‘experts’ in various economic and technological fields have made predictions about the number of jobs that will be displaced, none of them seem to come to the same consensus.
We never know how many jobs may be created after a ‘revolution’, and the same goes for the revolution that we may experience with AI (Artificial intelligence). Some research even argues that more jobs will be created than displaced – like this one. Consider the present day that we live in, many jobs in data science, programming, web security and internet marketing now exist, that did not 10-15 years ago. People become a prisoner to the dramatic titles that media puts out, as it tugs on their emotional strings – and consequently gets your eyes on the advertisements running on their page.
It is definitely possible that this could be an issue, but only if the system doesn’t adapt quickly to the changes. Namely the education system, which prepares young people for the world that they are about to enter and experience. If the education system adapts and changes the key components of the system to cater for these technological changes, then the people entering the workforce will be more prepared to deal with the latest technology. One such class that needs to be more stringently implemented is coding. I wish that I had coding when I was at school, as it would have been such a useful skill to have and would have made me a far more valuable person in the world today, from a personal marketing point. One should examine a country like China, where they have embraced automation, ultimately making them the foothold of the global supply chain. They export far more than they import, and this has allowed for rapid economic and social developments. Other countries that don’t have the capital or resources to invest in such technology should take lessons from India, whom have tailored their workforce towards technologically advanced jobs like coding and cyber security (which has also proved extremely beneficial to their economy as a whole).
Technology isn’t something that controls humans. Humans control technology. People need to begin to view technology such that it enables us to leverage our human power and do things that we deemed impossible before. Take doctors as one example. They are still necessary in the world today as there are many operations that have never been done before, that they sometimes must attempt. Technology has only assisted in identifying issues rather than solving them in this field, thereby allowing us to leverage the human power that I previously discussed. One of my favourite quotes by the British Science Fiction Writer Arthur C. Clarke is that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This is one of Clarke’s Three Laws. Things that we deemed impossible in the past, have now been made possible as a result of these phenomenal technological advances.
Through the implementation of training programs in jobs, it is possible that there is just a large shift in the tasks that people will do within many jobs. This could be towards more tasks that are more difficult for robots to deal with that require the creativity of the human brain (the world’s most powerful computer).
Overall, the longer term implications of these newer technologies are still unknown to many extents and articles tend to overstate the numbers of jobs that may be displaced. Technology in history has created a multitude of jobs, usually in very unpredictable ways. We have mentioned a few examples to illustrate this, and the more that you critically examine the labour market today – the more you can identify these newer jobs. Worrying about whether your job may be replaced is a fair worry to have, however it is easy to subside these worries by continually learning new skills, as well as concurrently improving on your own skills. The world is more populous than ever before, so to stand out in an increasingly difficult job market, one must constantly improve what they can offer to a business or the market. Many things will continue to require, what we might call ‘a human touch’, so be capable of providing it when that time comes.
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